A Settlement Conference is a meeting of the parties, together with a member of the Board, who will facilitate discussion and attempt to resolve the issues in the appeal. The discussions are confidential and without prejudice to the positions the parties may wish to take in a hearing, if settlement is not reached.
The Board has a duty to ensure that any settlement results in an accurate assessment. For that reason, a Settlement Conference is not equivalent to mediation between parties in a private dispute. The Board member conducting the Settlement Conference will take an active role in the discussions and may offer non-binding opinions on any issue or give an opinion on the likelihood of success should the appeal proceed to a hearing.
The Board may require the parties to do some preparation, which could include:
A Settlement Conference will generally be held in-person but could be held by telephone conference call. The Board will return to the parties all documents produced for the Settlement Conference, unless the parties and the Board determine they should become part of the Board’s appeal file.
If a settlement is reached as a result of the Settlement Conference, it will be treated like a Recommendation and must be approved by the Board. Once approved, the Board will prepare an order incorporating the terms of the settlement and the parties will not have to attend a hearing. If a settlement is not reached, an Appeal Management Conference may be held to determine the next steps or the appeal may be scheduled directly for a hearing.
If the parties are unable to settle the appeal, the Board member that presided over the Settlement Conference will not be part of the hearing panel, unless the parties consent.